The plane wasn’t exactly Emirates’ newest. But I wasn’t complaining. The flight was mostly empty, and I made the most of it by stretching out over four seats to catch a solid three hour kip.DSC01173 DSC01172

It was mostly usual fare. Sartorially, a few wonderful people stood out in the plane. The pot-bellied dude in Harley Davidson biking leathers. The long haired man who kept his wrap around shades planted firmly on his nose the entire time. A dude sporting a curious mix of wife beater, cardigan and flat artisan cap. With a large cross dangling from the neck.

By the time I had rubbed the vestiges of sleep from reasonably clear eyes, the plane was already lurching to Rafic Hariri airport. There, the fun started.

A mad scramble to the bag lockers, and we were soon at immigration. There was a particular cue for ‘Arabs and foreigners,’ which made me chortle endlessly. The Lebanese are of course not Arab at all.

Our cab driver was Ahmed. Ahmed was loud, Ahmed was fun. Ahmed showed us lots of love. He loved the fact that I was Pakistani- he insisted on his Muslim credentials. Very Muslim, he said. The ride to the Habtoor was full of Ahlan wa sahlans, halas, and love. Much love. And arguments about why I hadn’t made babies yet. And more Ahlans. And welcomes. All the time, we were being overcharged by a good 20 dollars. But that’s to be expected. I was being shafted – but lovingly. So much love.

Beirut has particular sort of beauty. A cussed, cussing, roaring, honking, deranged, asymmetrical sort of beauty. The driving is beautifully maniacal. I’ve seen worse, but it’s still impressive.

I’ve taken a couple of pictures from my seventeenth floor balcony. There’s sea stretching in one direction. And the silhouettes of mountains in the other. With the sun and the rain playing tag.

But focus! Arab Net awaits. I’m heading out.